Dear Mr. President,
As a person in long term recovery, if you ever got to meet the president, what would you say? There are many issues to bring up, but the most crucial point pushing forward with 2017, as a new president arrives, and current pandemic eludes forward, is the heroin use agenda. There was the CARA Act and 21st Century Cures Act in recent years, and that does provide some help for people with a substance use disorder seeking treatment. But, people with this seeking treatment will only seek it when they are ready for it. And now, we don’t want to, and shouldn’t be, sitting back and ‘wait’ and see what happens with partial number of members of the groups who have a substance use disorder actually getting the proper treatment they need. This leaves some to overdose, and families wondering why? We want to set up a future generation of Young People in Recovery! And that’s why I fully support all 90+ chapters of Justin Luke Riley’s vision, in Young People in Recovery…
Not only does Justin make a great effort to set up prevention for future generations to come, but the awareness brought by current generations bring up a crucial talking point for places like government, policy, and true change with educational and provisional determinate awareness programs. My opinion is not endorsed by Young People in Recovery (yet I’d hope), but we both share crucial messages that only we are the expert on in that subject matter; which is our story, our life. So, in efforts to create a collaborative community, I believe that there are certain actions future Presidents need to understand in order to move forward with the intentions of ending our crisis at hand: Substance use disorder.
Being a person in long term recovery and in my times of substance use disorder, I’ve never had anything push me any further towards my recovery than the way my family took care of all of our issues when facing my substance use disorder. In my personal story, many know that my most well-known article, center piece for my story, and influential situation I’ve had was when I broke my mother’s heart. I was devastated and I was in what most would call an “Aha” type of moment. With my mother falling to her knees right in front of my blackened eyes, in efforts to relieve herself from a near-stroke moment, it was pure devastation to me. But it also opened my eyes to the true damage I was doing by using heroin, alcohol, pills, and other drugs. I came to realize that I wasn’t just destroying myself, my body, my mind, or my soul. I was continually destroying the lives of those who love me the most, too.
On Christmas Eve 2010 I’d returned home to my parent’s house after a month long binge of moonshine and heroin, claiming to have the flu. I’d been running warm Epsom salt baths late into the night, keeping everyone up and panicked, all in efforts to try and cure the acute withdrawals and formication I was experiencing. But, I couldn’t keep the façade up for long. My father caught on, and my mother tried to stay oblivious until I scrambled down the stairs half naked with an arm full of track marks, my eyes blackened from sleepless nights, and a mouth rotten from bad moonshine. If ever there were ever a moment to wake up, smell some dirty roses, and change, it was now. My mother hadn’t wanted anything to do with me; and my other best friend—my grandma—felt betrayed, only to die a few months later. I felt like I’d not only destroyed my life, but killed any intentions of hope for my mother’s well-being and past judgement of my grandmother before passing from cancer due to smoking use herself.
I was young, and had previously received a stay at a detox facility 19 months prior, while only being eighteen years old. I had no clue what the policies were towards addiction, or whether they even mattered towards me! I had no idea if my insurance would cover me this time; especially since my father had removed me from our family plan, due to liability issues with my substance use disorder. And if I even had a thought of going to treatment, I would never know the right place to ‘try’ and be accepted to. My turning point from addiction to becoming a person in long term recovery was a lot different than a policy put in place. It was the torment and anguish I’d put my parents through, not only with substance use disorder, but with my severely induced mental health issues. But hey! What came first? The chicken or the egg…
If my parents weren’t educated with places like Al-Anon, or other educational platforms, showing them that enabling me was the worst thing that they could do, then I’m almost positive that I’d still be in active substance use. Not only was the time away from my family, and tough love, healing for both of us, it taught me how to work my way up out of the hole that I’d built for myself. This has to be proof of something, as I learned in college while graduating with honors, that the mother is the centerpiece of nurturing and empathetic situations within the family and household. So my mother? She saved my life, with the help of Al-Anon, educational platforms, and prevention tools that she’d invested in to benefit her, my recovery, and the recovery community around her. Just like the educational platforms, outreach programs, and provisions Justin from Young People in Recovery have put in place.
With this being said, why place policy as a top standard for care when the one’s using won’t seek the help they need until they are truly in that “Aha” moment, and the need turns into a want? Why not try to bring more “Aha” moments by investing in familial educational platforms, not just for the person with a substance use disorder, but everyone affected. And what if, these educational platforms were put in place for our future youth that we could change the structure of what a family relies on, instead of trying to help ‘after the fact.’ My stance lies within social bonding, attachment, and what true prevention looks like: Prevention before, not after. Bringing me to my next valid and truthful experience…
Social structure is the infrastructure in which our lives can either blossom in or be ripped to shreds from. From what I’ve learned, having a good, great, or at least some form of social outlet that begets passion is, and was my sanctity away from harmful substances. Having a passion leads you to something that your heart will always feel full with. There will be no void, but only empathetic compassion and a bountiful place to grow. No wonder there’s soccer moms and enthusiastic old aunts cheering on their nephew’s at minor leagues football matches! This is a sense of interactive environments that our community has lost along the way, in recent years. And what truly matters are systems that can communicate with each other in times of peril or strength; neither should be overlooked. Not to mention training the young and youthful generations that it’s okay to enjoy something healthy…
This is a message that I try to portray with Substance For You, and continue to work on. Yes, you’ve probably found this link due to social media. Most will continue to do so, as by trade, I am a professional social media growth expert and tactician for social branding and consulting. It just so happens that I was in recovery when I found my talents and put them into perfect use. And when a great friend told me that ‘interactive communities’ are the way to heal a hurting nation, I decided to get after the dream and defeat the struggle. Now I may pride myself on 40,000 Instagram followers, 65,000 Twitter followers, and a nice following on Facebook and Pinterest, while they are still growing vastly. But what matters most is the engagement between these communities and the people in them. Not the likes or the views. Then, and only then, am I helping; which is what I take pride in doing!
But you’re probably saying that not everyone knows how to do that….
I didn’t start my journey by easily gaining traction. I had to learn the trade the best way I knew how. And where my previous story left off was when I was first becoming a person in recovery from alcohol or other drugs and regaining my mother’s, and family’s trust back. Through doing so I had to learn to live a trustworthy life, while not just go up to my father and shaking his hand for hopes that I’d regained any bit of what I’d lost. So, their step to helping me become whole again was through a great social community, full of interactive means and learning at every turning corner. So what was that calling I had set out for now? This is when I went back to join my dreams at the University for a Degree in Science of Sociology and Substance Abuse with Cum Laude honors, international collegiate honors for major and minor grade points, honors for mentoring and tutoring, among influencing many who had heard my keynote speaking engagements addressing the ‘War on Drugs’ scheduled by that same University. Now this may seem like a lot of accomplishment, but I struggled in the beginning, too. And that was only until I ended my silence. Then my mission was started and I found a passion with a place to engage and grow it, through education. It was truly profitable for my health, long term recovery, and those around me in ways that money couldn’t replace; although money and education seem to be an issue for many families in today’s generation…
Although for me, it was better than multiple more stints in rehab! I’d not only become wealthier, but started to become accountable for my place and true calling in this World. This filled the void I had left from my substance use disorder more than any other social outlet I’ve known in my life to date, besides what it got me into; this, Substance For You.
Now I hope you’re seeing a trend in my success to becoming a person in long term recovery and gaining a solid foundation in long term recovery as well, because I can’t beat it home enough. The change will come, and must come before the first drop of alcohol or other drugs has ever been taken. And if we want true prevention we must earn it through a passionate and compelling environment where we can collaborate, grow, communicate, and educate all at the same time. Then, maybe, we will stop an issue before it’s been created and finally be able to let those know, who need treatment that it’s okay to say, “I need help.” Because those are role models for a younger generation, who’s now already been educated with what I’d discussed above, to stray from a life of affliction, and yearn for a life of growth, passion, and empathy. This is where I stand on how future policy, change, environmentalist change, and societal change should be run as appropriate course of action; prevention, not after the fact. I hope you join me, support this, and put it into action. Go out and educate yourself. You never know when it’ll be time to save someone you love’s life!
So, think to yourself…
“How would you address the President on something you care deeply about, if ever given the chance?”
Sincerely and always,
-Substance For You